Debbie Carey BIRMINGHAM
Debbie Carey Hendry became Rose of Tralee in 1981, representing Birmingham and was the second Birmingham Rose to have won the title
I was employed by Bank of Ireland when I was selected as Rose of Tralee 1981. They were very supportive and backed me throughout the 12 month reign in whatever I was asked to do. It was also a useful promotional exercise for the Bank as I was a guest at many events, the highlight being 'The All Stars Gala Dinner in Dublin'.
Following my selection I became involved with the running of the Midlands Rose of Tralee Selection and was active as the Chairperson of this committee for a number of years. That was one of the periods in my life that ioved and it opened many doors and enabled me to build up a wide circle of friends and acquaintances a lot of which I still see and hear from today.
After thirty-one and a half years working with Bank of Ireland the opportunity has arisen whereby I have decided to voluntarily retire. At present I am involved through my son with Irish Dancing as he is a member of The Carey Academy in Birmingham. I have been very active in assisting the fundraising side of the dance school. It is my intention to look more into this aspect now that I will have some spare time on my hands.
I live with my fiancé James Herron and we have been together 10 years in August. I have three sons: Jon (18), Andrew (14) and Callum (6).
I can still hear the President of the Festival, in 1981, Gerald O'Reilly, announce from the stage that the International Rose of Tralee for 1981 is the Birmingham & Midlands Rose - Deborah Carey - what a feeling that was. It was as if I was floating on top of the world and to crown it all my parents and brother and other relatives were in the Dome to witness the celebrations there and all through the night. Midnight Madness followed the announcement and that really brought home to me how special it was to be the International Rose of Tralee when I saw the little girls' faces in the crowd looking at me with their own dreams of perhaps becoming a Rose in the future.
In 1981 the Festival was held in very high esteem, as it still is today, and I felt very proud and honoured, being second generation Irish, to have been afforded the opportunity to fulfil my dream of becoming the International Rose and being an ambassador for the Festival for the year.
Being the Rose in 1981 opened many doors for me both personally and in my business career and I feel that my whole life has been enriched by the whole experience.
There are many memories of the whole experience, good, not so good and funny, but one that does stick in my mind is being interviewed on stage with Gay Byrne - when it came to my 'party piece' he suddenly realised that my shoes were actually tied around my ankles and 'Gaybo' being the perfect gentleman knelt down to undo them and take them off!! I think that was a first. Another vivid memory was lunch at The Brogue Inn where I was asked to commence luncheon proceedings by swallowing an oyster! To this day I still cannot look at an oyster let alone swallow one!